Roster Highlights: Daniel Brito (2B), Jhailyn Ortiz (OF), Spencer Howard (SP)
It was a tale of two sample-sizes for Brito in 2017. Was he the guy we saw in April (.327/.377/.449 with 3 HR and 6 SB) or the guy from May – September (.215/.276/.281 with 3 HR and 6 SB)? I’m going to go out on a steady limb and say the true talent right now is somewhere in-between. Jhailyn Ortiz had a breakout season with Williamsport, slashing .302/.401/.560 with 8 HR and 5 stolen bases. He was even able to disprove critics and play and adequate right field (he has a cannon for an arm). Look for BIG things from Ortiz in 2018.
Not many fans were all that thrilled with the Phillies 2017 2nd round pick. Spencer Howard wasn’t even a full-time starter in his last collegiate year before garnering the Phillies attention. Howard was immediately assigned to Williamsport and saw varying degrees of success. He finished his first professional season with 40 strikeouts and 18 walks in 28.1 innings. The key to this season for Howard will be to harness that command to make his mid-90’s fastball effective.
Keep an eye on: Simon Muzziotti (OF)
Thank the Boston Red Sox for gifting us Muzziotti for when they circumvented the international signing period, forfeiting some former signees. One of those players happened to be Muzziotti who signed with the Phillies in 2016. His line in the GCL last year (.269/.305/.388) wasn’t eye-popping, but scouts rave about his hit tool and discipline at the plate.
- The season starts Thursday, April 5
- They finished 73-66 last season.
- They are hosting a “Stranger Things Night” on 4/27 where they’ll giveaway Blueclaws trucker hats. What else encompasses a “Stranger Things Night”?
- In the same theme of weird promos, the Blueclaws are also giving away a Rhys Hoskins bobblehead…riding a Game of Thrones dragon as part of their “Seven Kingdoms of Claws Night”.
Roster Highlights: Mickey Moniak (OF), Adam Haseley (OF), Arquimedes Gamboa (SS), Adonis Medina (SP)
Moniak and Haseley made waves last season for the Phillies, though they just happened to be ripples instead of a tsunami. The 2016 and 2017 1st round picks for the Phillies, respectively, struggled in their 2017 seasons in different ways. Mickey Moniak played his first full-season ball in Lakewood as a 19 year old where he exhibited very little of the skillset that made him worthy of a #1 overall draft pick. He looked incredibly overmatched at the plate and lost any semblance of plate discipline. Meanwhile, Adam Haseley performed well enough in the GCL and New York/Penn League to give reason for optimism. However, for whatever reason, those strides hit a wall when he struggled after a promotion to Lakewood. Many believe the long college season coupled with a more rigorous professional schedule was a bit too much for the 21 year old. Let’s hope the unforgiving Florida humidity doesn’t make it any more of a sticky situation this season.
Last, but not least, Adonis Medina will make his Florida State League debut. Medina is without a doubt the second best pitching prospect in the Phillies organization. He was phenomenal with Lakewood last season pitching 119.2 innings, striking out 133 and walking 39. He finished with a 4-9 record and 3.01 ERA. Medina brings a great fastball command with mid-90’s velocity and a great changeup. If things go well, Medina might not be in Florida for long.
Keep an eye on: Jeff Singer (RP)
He was the FSL saves leader last season and also struck out 66 batters in 50 innings with a 2.34 ERA for Clearwater. His late-season promotion to Reading didn’t go to well, but it isn’t out the question that he refines his approach a bit and starts to make some noise. Did I mention he is a lefty? The big club needs those guys.
- Shawn Williams (head coach), Aaron Fultz (pitching coach) and John Mizerock (hitting coach) are all back again for a club that went 67-71 in 2017.
- Season begins Thursday, April 5.
- Every first Friday home game is 25 cent hotdog night.
- People still like bobblehead giveaways, right? This year’s are Rhys Hoskins (4/13) and Phinley (5/4).
Reading Fightin’ Phils
Roster Highlights: Cornelius Randolph (OF), Franklyn Kilome (SP), JoJo Romero (SP), Seranthony Dominguez (RP)
Randolph gets the opening day nod in Reading’s starting outfield and is the team’s youngest player on the roster — SP Edgar Garcia is the second-youngest player and nearly eight months older than Randolph. The 20-year-old is going to be challenged in double-A, especially given the fact that he did not fully grasp A-ball pitching until about halfway through the 2017 season. The player development staff for the Phils is clearly showing confidence in Randolph’s hit tool and looks to believe the improved power is legit.
Upon being promoted late in the season to Reading, the 22-year-old Kilome continued to struggle with his command and mechanics. His walks rose and his strikeouts depleted, however 29.2 innings is by no means enough to judge a player. Watch for Kilome’s command and mechanics this season in Reading as getting those under control will be key. JoJo Romero turned some heads last season and leaped up prospect boards in the offseason. He split time between Lakewood and Clearwater, putting up resembling numbers across the board. Unlike Kilome the next level did not cause a walk increase, however Romero did see a slight decrease in strikeouts. Good control, a plus changeup and a mid-90s fastball should help him out at the hitter-friendly confines in Reading.
Dominguez, as we’ve mentioned here before, has been converted to a relief role full-time. He features a mid-to-upper 90s fastball that is paired with a slider. Similar to Kilome, the control and command issues are what need the most work. If Dominguez were to come out this season throwing consistently in the upper 90s with improved command of his breaking ball, it is very plausible we see him in the major leagues sooner rather than later.
Keep an eye on: Edgar Garcia (RP)
Last year, Garcia began the season in the bullpen, struggled, then moved to the rotation and struggled some more. He profiles more so like a reliever, sporting a fastball that runs in the mid-90s and a good slider. By the looks of it he will be in Reading’s bullpen and if he can find any success he could be a relatively quick mover at just 21 years of age.
- A Rhys Hoskins bobblehead will also be given out in Reading on April 7 following a Hoskins T-shirt giveaway on the 6th
- Greg Legg is back for his second season as manager after leading Reading to a 72-68 record in 2017
- Season begins Thursday, April 5
Lehigh Valley IronPigs
Roster Highlights: Roman Quinn (OF), Thomas Eshelman (SP), Enyel De Los Santos (SP)
Now that nearly the entire wave of Phillies prospects has graduated to the major leagues, just a few remain. That group is highlighted by Quinn who, despite a nice spring, slightly missed out on an opening day roster spot. It is probably safe to say that Quinn is the first player called up in the case of an injury to the big league outfield. He just needs to stay healthy himself.
Eshelman also had a nice spring before being reassigned to minor league camp. Like Quinn, Eshelman figures to be the replacement for any additional injury in the rotation. Regardless, he should once again have a nice stint in triple-A before he sees big league time, whenever that may be. Among the three highlights, De Los Santos is the one yet to prove his skills in triple-A. The 22-year-old throws his fastball in the mid-to-high 90s and compliments it with a good changeup. His breaking ball has yet to see much success and consistency, so that will be a focal point for De Los Santos this season.
Keep an eye on: Jesmuel Valentin (IF/OF)
Valentin impressed for a second consecutive spring but once again missed out on an opening day roster spot. We know what he can do and what he can bring to a team in terms of his versatility. Any dry stretch for Pedro Florimon and Valentin is making his way to Philadelphia.
- Lehigh Valley rounds out the 4-for-4 in Rhys Hoskins giveaways with a mini bronze statue on April 14
- There are a lot of new food items at Coca Cola Park, like way too many to list here, so here’s the link
- Season starts Friday, April 6
- The J.P. Crawford ‘Grand Slide’ bobblehead will be given away on June 12